Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

At Least 30 Dead, Hundreds Still Missing Across the Bahamas; American Airlines Mechanic Accused of Sabotaging Plane over Union Contract Dispute; Lawmakers Furious After Learning How Military Will Pay for Trump's Border Wall; Utah Mother Charged after Allegedly Trying to Smuggle 6-Day-Old Baby Out of Philippines. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Appreciate it.

VANESSA PRITCHARD-ANSELL, FOUNDER, DORIANPEOPLESEARCH.COM: And thank you so much for bringing focus to this effort, this mass efforts. So thank you.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

At this point, how many names of missing and unaccounted for has been added to your Web site?

PRITCHARD-ANSELL: Currently, our data base is about -- at about 6300 people, persons that are listed either status known, status unknown, critical evacuation, evacuation needed. Of that, the critical evacuation, that appears on the front end of the Web site.

That list, when anyone is entered on that, it goes directly to -- an email will go directly to the U.S. embassy in the Bahamas. It will also go to the consulate here in the Bahamas. It will also go the foundation, which is a private organization. And I'll get an email. Between ourselves. we will try to organize evacuation efforts.

BOLDUAN: Is your background in anything like relief -- taking part in relief efforts? What spurred you to want to do this, to make this effort happen?

PRITCHARD-ANSELL: On Sunday night, at about 10:00, I was sitting on my couch and I was on Facebook and I saw there were multiple pages that were being -- there were multiple pages where people were asking where their loved ones were. Obviously, each page on Facebook would have their own goal, own focus.

I realized there needed to be a centralized place where people could ask this question of where's my loved one. And I realize there was a practicality standpoint of it. But there was also the standpoint of human connection. So social media brings people together in ways we can't even comprehend.

So when someone entered a name on the Facebook page, all of a sudden, they were finding a mutual friend. That was a person that could really help just be there with them in what was really the darkest hours for the people on the ground and were literally living through the hurricane and fighting for their lives and trying to survive.

And the people like myself, who are just trying to find where their loved ones were. Because it was also -- when I started it, I started it thinking I might wake up on Monday morning and it might just be me. I might be the only person on this group trying to find a colleague, more than one colleague spread through the Abacos.

And now we are at 11,000 members on that Facebook page.

BOLDUAN: And there are great stories of people being found. People being announced they are critically wounded. There are still so many missing.

When you hear from the Bahamian health minister, when he yesterday that the public needs to prepare for unimaginable information when talking about the death toll, when you hear that, what does that mean to you?

PRITCHARD-ANSELL: Well, my heart is racing when you say it. Right before you came on, when I heard the resident that I believe was on Abaco trying to express the magnitude of Hurricane Dorian and how it's displaced the people of Abacos and Grand Bahama, it's very emotional.

I mean, the Bahamas is very much part of my identity. My family has been here since the 1700s. So it's my home. There's a part of my home that is broken.

But I also realize people need information. That's why we created -- and this wasn't singlehandedly done by myself. There are four key other volunteers throughout the world, Calgary, Canada, Spain and in North Carolina. And they are helping maintain this page, maintain and make sure that the information up there's correct.

We're just responding in the best way that we possibly can.

BOLDUAN: At the very least, you're providing that connection when it feels that people are so disconnected and lost in a moment they're trying to connect with their loved ones and friends.

It is Dorianpeoplesearch.com. I can't everyone to remember that, Doprianpeoplesearch.com as this effort continues.

Vanessa, thanks so much for your effort. Thanks for coming on. I really appreciate it.

PRITCHARD-ANSELL: Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for drawing attention to Dorian, which has literally caused so much destruction across the northern Bahamas. So thank you.

BOLDUAN: Generational devastation, that is how the prime minister put it. That's what we'll continue to cover.

Thank you so much. [11:34:42]

Coming up for us, an American Airlines mechanic is accused of trying to sabotage a flight packed with passengers as it's about to take off. Wait until you hear why they believe he did it. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: It's about as close of a call as you can get. As an American Airlines flight is accelerating down the runway in Miami, a critical error stops the pilots from taking off at the last moment, takeoff was aborted. And now one man is in court today accused of trying to sabotage that flight.

[11:40:09]

CNN aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is joining me now with details.

Rene, this is really scary, these details coming out. What happened here?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Kate, when you think about it, this plane was rolling down the runway. You had 150 passengers on board.

According to these court documents, what this mechanic did was he allegedly placed foam in a tube that leads to a flight navigation system. Luckily, we know these airline pilots recognized that something was wrong. They received an alert and aborted takeoff.

But the person behind this, this mechanic, Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, told investigators the reason why he did this was he was upset over a contract dispute between the union workers and airlines. And he said he lost money here. And allegedly, he explained that he tampered with the aircraft so he could get overtime so he could work on this plane.

BOLDUAN: Yes. That's a hard one to wrap your mind around.

MARSH: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Rene, thank you so much. She's in court. Really appreciate it. There's nothing but questions about this one.

Joining me right now on this one is Peter Goelz. He's a CNN aviation analyst and former NTSB former managing director.

Great to see you, Peter.

I want to read just a bit from the complaint against this mechanic and what he's accused of. This is what it says: "He inserted a piece of foam into the air data module systems inlet where the line connects and then he applied superglue to the foam as to prevent the foam from coming off."

That's from the complaint. Can you put this in layman's terms? How dangerous was that what he did?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's dangerous and it's appalling. Here's the point. The pitot tube gives information to this air data module that then translates it into electronic impulses, which then go to the flight control system. Pilots needed to know how fast they're going.

There have been numerous crashes with faulty pitot tubes. And it could have also affected the angle of attack indicator. So this is really appalling behavior.

What's really scary is he thought it through. You know, he got the super glue. He placed it in there. And the union thankfully, has denounced his behavior, but this guy's in a lot of trouble.

BOLDUAN: Peter, especially in light of -- maybe I'm conflating two things. The Boeing mess. This type of takeoff is when all of that information, from the layman's perspective, this is critical information. And that's where this -- that seems just duly troubling.

GOELZ: You're absolute rightly right. Takeoff is the most critical part of the flight than landing. There's a heavy workload on the pilots. They need to do the right thing in a fairly limited amount of time.

That they got this data when they're able to stop the plane and abort the takeoff is good news. Had they taken off with it, they would have had their hands full with a whole lot of other problems. So this is a big issue.

BOLDUAN: This is a big issue. That's why a lot of people are really interested what happens in court today and beyond.

Peter, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up for us, the president said Mexico would pay for the border wall. Of course, he's now turned to U.S. military projects to foot the bill. Some lawmakers are furious. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:09]

BOLDUAN: Well, students are heading back to school. There's a tough reality to deal with. A hidden population of kids are on the brink of homelessness. This week's "CNN Hero" is bringing some of them out of the shadows not only giving them a safe house to live in but a chance for a brighter future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: There's a lot of shame that goes with being a homeless unaccompanied youth. They hide what's actually going on with them. So they really become this very invisible population. Most people don't know these kids exist.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: The transformation of these kids is monumental. They come in so broken. And I'm just one person telling them I'm going to help them. They become softer.

It's just great that they can be happy and are able to be kids again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: To be kids again. To learn more, go to CNNheroes.com.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Outrage -- that is the reaction from some lawmakers right now after the Trump administration announced this week that the money to pay for the president's border wall is going to come not from anything Congress has approved and definitely not from Mexico, but instead from diverting billions of dollars that were set for military construction projects.

[11:50:06]

According to the Defense Department, 11 wall projects at the border will mean 127 military construction projects are now on hold.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has the details and is joining me right now -- Alex?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Norfolk, Virginia, is home to the U.S. Navy's Atlantic fleet and the larges naval base in the world.

The area's central and vital role in military operations and national security hasn't stopped the Trump administration from naming four different military projects here, whose almost $80 million in funding will now be diverted to pay for the border wall.

REP. BOBBY SCOTT (D-VA): All of these projects are being lost for a wall that makes no sense and everybody knows it.

MARQUARDT: Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott has represented the district for almost three decades and says President Trump's decision is costing his constituents jobs.

SCOTT: It means that the jobs that could have come to the area won't come to the area. Tens of millions of dollars-worth of construction. That's a lot of economic impact to this area that we're going to lose for a wall that is not needed.

MARQUARDT: In all, $3.6 billion in military funds are being taken to help pay for the wall, 127 projects, from firing ranges to aircraft hangars to childcare, both at home and abroad, whose budgets are being gutted.

In Virginia, the four that are losing $77 million in funding are a naval ship maintenance facility, two hazardous materials warehouse projects, and a cyber operations facility.

In a place with such a historic and important military heritage where 40 percent of the economy is related to military funding, that hurts both financially and emotionally.

COL. BRUCE STURK, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL FACILITIES SUPPORT:: Our community is the fabric built on military veterans and a very healthy military population here in the Hamptons region so there's a general sense of disappointment

MARQUARDT: Bruce Sturk retired from the Air Force as a colonel, last serving at Langley Air Force Base, which is now being stripped of $10 million for that cyber operations and training facility, at a time when cyberattacks are one of the greatest threats to national security, along about others that will now be ignored, says Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria, a retired naval commander whose district is also affected.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): I know firsthand from having spoken to the commanders at the bases where this is going to happen that it is going to impact our mission and our security.

MARQUARDT: Not just the security of the nation but those serving it, whose priorities now may not be addressed.

LURIA: It's like your husband, it's your neighbor, it's your going on a deployment and you don't want to think their ship wasn't maintained properly or they don't have the tools they need to do their job. It hits home a lot in a community like this where everyone is tied to the military.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT: The Pentagon is pushing back on the notion that they have been defunded. They say they've just been deferred, that they'll get their funding back at a later date. But this $3.6 billion had been specifically appropriated by Congress for these projects.

And, Kate, it is getting political. Democrats say this is exactly why you have congressional approval. And now to get those projects refunded, the money needs to be reapproved by Congress, which is far from certain.

And then, when it comes to electoral politics, if you look at just the 23 states that have been affected here, they include three competitive Senate races for 2020 where Republicans are the most vulnerable.

Democrats can now tell voters in those races, look, the Republican administration took tens of millions of dollars away from us and made us less secure in the process -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That is some tough math to swallow, 127 projects on hold for 11 projects at the border wall.

Thanks, Alex. Really appreciate it. Great reporting.

Coming up for us, a woman from Utah is accused of human trafficking right now after being stopped at an airport with a 6-day-old newborn in her carry-on bag. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:20]

BOLDUAN: A Utah woman is behind bars right now in the Philippines, charged with trying to smuggle a newborn out of the country in her carry-on. Officials there say she used a sling bag to hide the baby as she was going through immigration.

You can see here somewhat she takes the bag off as she goes through what looks to be a security line.

Kristie Lu Stout is joining me now from Hong Kong.

Kristie, I have nothing but questions about this one. What are you hearing?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR & INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is such an alarming case. In the Philippines, an American woman has been charged with human trafficking after officials say she tried to smuggle a 6-day-old out of the country.

The woman is a 43-year-old from Utah. Her name is Jennifer Talbot. She's a mother of five. We don't have any other details about the newborn.

At a press conference earlier in Manila, an official involved in the investigation said Talbot used a sling bag to hide the baby while passing through immigration. The official also said, after immigration, Talbot was carrying the newborn when she tried to board her Delta Airlines flight.

It was at the boarding gate when Delta crew asked the woman to provide documentation for the child. When she didn't have it, that was when the Philippine authorities have been contacted.

Talbot has been charged with violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in the Philippines. On her person, she had a notarized affidavit declaring that she intended to adopt the baby but it wasn't signed by the child's mother. She gave no information on whether the child was given or sold.

And authorities said the mother has been identified and will be charged. The police not able to find the child's father.

But it begs a lot of questions about what that newborn had to endure while inside that carry-on bag, going through security, going through immigration in a brazen attempt to smuggle out a 6-day-old child -- Kate? [12:00:02]

BOLDUAN: How it wasn't caught. Everyone knows a 6-day-old child is not a quiet child.

STOUT: Yes.

BOLDUAN: And how they didn't recognize this much sooner than the boarding gate.